134: Monday 29th March 2010

I found out that using the cutback inputs on the motor controller does limit the speed of the motor, but does not make it any more efficient. For this a reduction in current is needed. I also found out that if the brake and throttle inputs are activated at the same time then the current is reduced to 500A maximum. So I got to rewiring the relays. In sport mode when the throttle is pressed you get the full 800A available and it accelerates really well. I have used the relay to provide 120v to the brake input (switches it off), so just the normal disc brakes, and when the throttle is release then this activates cutback 3 that is set to maximum speed limit and reduces the release regen to the minimum level and is cutback. When the throttle is pressed again the cutback is disabled so full beans again. For the economy mode, pressing the throttle activates the throttle and brake inputs together giving reduced current and the speed limit set by cutback 2. releasing the throttle removes the brake input and provides the release regen braking. pressing the brake pedal on its own provides extra brake regen charging. As the motor speed is limited then there is no arcing. There is no arcing in sport mode as there is only a tiny amount of regen. So then the motor can go full speed. During the week I am getting a comfortable 25 miles on a charge in economy mode and 17 miles in sport mode if I take it easy.

That was all done during the week, but the weekend just gone I was finding out some of the characteristics of the gauges. I want to use the old fuel gauge for state of charge and the tacho as the ammeter (x100). The fuel gauge shows exactly at the bottom of the scale (empty) with 2.7 volts on the input and full when the voltage is zero. Now I need to make 114v = 2.7v and 134v = 0v. I have a plan and it will be isolated between the batteries and the gauge itself using an opto isolator. The tacho did not respond to voltage at all. I suspected it would only work from a pulse train, but I tried it all the same just to be sure. Using a simple voltage controlled oscillator a hall effect current sensor and a transistor I can drive the tacho. This will also take some working out, but I will get it working soon enough. Then I will have instantaneous current and state of charge. The state of charge will only be measured when the throttle is released so it is off load.

133: Sunday 21st March 2010

All the time I have been doing this electric car conversion I have had a companion that I believe deserves a mention. This fox sits on top of a pile of bricks that I have on our driveway (next job!) and occasionally takes a sip of water from the little pools on the polythene cover. Right on Foxy...
Yesterday I installed some slave relays for the clutch switch, the brake switch and a "sport / economy" selector switch. These are operated by the 12v switches and pass 120v signals to the motor controller. The clutch relay has 2 purposes; it provides a throttle switch input that disables the release regen because the controller believes the throttle is not released and it cuts the feed to the brake relay so brake regen is disabled. The net effect is the clutch pedal when pushed disables all types of regen. This enables me to change gear without any regen going on. I need to look into the arcing problem, but I have a solution. When the cutback reduces the motor voltage, it also reduces the release regen, so if I add another relay to control the sport mode only, then I can use another cutback input for when the throttle is released therefore reducing the regen when the throttle is released in sport mode. As the speed is limited in economy mode I want remove the cutback when the throttle is released to get the full regen effect. Then I have the best of both worlds and no arcing. The photo below shows the "sport / economy" switch mounted in the centre console just behind the gear lever. It looks like it has always been there and I am really pleased about that. Just need to get a label made up for it now. This fits in with my principle of not cluttering the car with switches and buttons etc. that look out of place.

132: Tuesday 16th March 2010

I got 26.6 miles today from a single charge. I have been driving really carefully in 3rd gear only. My next plan to increase mileage is to use the cutback to set up a switch for “sport / economy” so I can limit the throttle amount in economy mode and give it full beans in sport mode. I am also going to rig up some slave relays to my brake and clutch pedal switches so I can introduce the braking regen (loads of charging amps) and disable regen when I touch the clutch pedal. I had it confirmed that the release regen (200A charging) is triggered by the throttle micro switch, so I can use the same feed to the throttle and brake inputs and break the connections with the clutch relay. Then I can select economy mode and use the gears. It will be much easier to maintain a top speed. Also in sport mode I can go through the gears and do some 0-60 runs and find the top speed etc. I am hoping I can borrow the test track at work for this.

I had a disaster this morning, I did not know what had happened for sure until I got home from work, but when I plugged in last night it started charging o.k. When I came out in the morning there was no noise from the fans on the charger so I automatically assumed that the charge was complete. I just about made the 7 mile trip to work and I started worrying about duff batteries and other stuff. I tested the batteries after 90 minutes of charge and everything was fine. Then I remembered that I had a new caravan adapter for the charge lead and assumed that it must have had a 10A fuse in it and the car only got about 1 hr of charge before it blew. When I got home I found that the short extension I had on the end of another extension had blown its fuse and was arcing on the live wire connection. The plug was quite badly burned. So tonight I reversed up the drive so I had plenty of cable and did not need the short extension.

131: Saturday 13th March 2010

Since I got my tax disc on Tuesday I have had some driving experience now. The batteries seem to have woken up a bit and now I have a confident 18 mile range with some charge still left. I am going to spend some time rigging up the regen through the clutch switch so that it is disabled if I press the clutch pedal at any time. Hopefully this will extend the range a bit further, but definitely give a better feel by providing a bit of "engine braking" and a lump of regen charging when the brake pedal is pressed. There is a choice of levels 0 to 5 for each of "lift-off" regen and brake regen, so I can have a play with these settings and find a good compromise between comfort and regen charge. I also have been in touch with my supplier of the battery discharge indicator as it was showing full when my batteries had run right down. this caught me out one time and I managed to just about trickle home. I found out the gauge was set up for forklift trucks that run for 7 or 8 hours and it only updates once every hour. Since I can flatten my batteries in less than an hour it is next to useless. The supplier is sorting me out with a replacement that shows the instantaneous level. I also need to start making the converter circuits to use the rev counter as an ammeter and the fuel gauge as a charge level indicator. I am currently using the 12v battery gauge as a rough guide to the charge left, but it doesn't change much.

In general I am very happy with the way it drives and today was the first time since Tuesday that I have used my Ford Fiesta. We went to football training that is a 36 mile round trip. I got rid of the old engine off my driveway today also. I have taken off most of the parts that can be sold. I will be making my gauge converter circuit calibrateable, so if you are interested, I can make more. I am also going to make an individual battery monitor display that shows the level of each battery on 10 bargraphs so I can see the state of all the batteries at-a-glance.

130: Tuesday 9th March 2010

Today I got my tax disc. It was not without some issues though. First thing I saw when I arrived at the DVLA office was pickets for a strike over pay claims. So I went in and took my ticket. There were only 2 people queing before me. I noticed there was a sign saying that only a limited service would be offered today due to industrial action. My turn came and I handed over my log book, insurance cover note and MOT certificate with the Engineers report. The woman serving me had to fax the Engineers report over to the head office at Swansea. She told me that she was not sure if anybody was picking up faxes at Swansea because of industrial action so it may take a while. I waited a while and I was called up and told that the Engineers report was o.k., but it does not mention the chassis number and this would be needed to process the change of tax class. I got on the phone to the garage and then went there and the Engineer had a signed and stamped report with the chassis number on it, then back to the DVLA. I didn't need to que this time and after a quick check over the new Engineers report I filled in a form for the change of tax class and the log book was changed and then I was issued with the new tax disc. In the photo I have defaced this so it can't be copied. I have blacked out my car registration number and written SAMPLE across it in red. Just below this you will see "NIL" charge and "ELECTRIC" as the class, cool. When I got home I went for a few drives. I only clocked up about 13 miles before the batteries were flat. This is plenty for my commute to work where I can charge up again for the journey home. It is a bit disappointing, but the batteries are second hand and near the end of their life. With a set of nice fresh batteries I should get much more. Anyway, I shall drive it around like this for a while and then try switching on the regen braking to try to recoup some energy back to the batteries.

129:Sunday 7th March 2010

Today I wanted to cure the power steering leak. I had a plan and needed to get a 10mm compression coupling from a DIY shop. Football match was a 1:30 kick off for my daughter's team, so that messed the day up quite a bit. They did win 7-0 so that was good. Picked up the coupling on the way to the match. The photo below shows the coupling I had before and you can see at the top between the 2 washers there is a tiny gap and this was where it was leaking from.
This photo shows the pump with the Toyota pipe fitted. You can see this does not seal on the casting.
I actually got the wrong end of the pipe and it does not seal on a small O Ring, but the fluted end you can see in the photo that seats inside the pump. I cut back some of the plastic coating on the probe pipe very carefully using a heat gun to soften it first so that I did not mark the metal pipe. I measured this and it was exactly 10mm. I did this before I bought the coupling of course!
I cut the Toyota pipe and joined the coupling to the end of this. I then offered it up on the car to make sure the Probe pipe was in the correct orientation to join on.
I then cut the Probe pipe and stripped back the plastic coating. I fitted the coupling on the Probe end. I moved the bracket for the pump mounts as I had to pull the pump up onto it and it was siting at a weird angle in the anti vibration mounts. I was not happy with this so I moved the bracket up and turned it over to put the bracket at the right height for the mounts not to be pulling so much. Then I mounted the pump and connected the pipes together. I ran the pump while putting fluid in the reservoir to get all the air out of the system. A few turns back and forth on the steering got the last of the air out and another top up revealed no leaks hurrah! The Probatron is now truly ready to go for Tuesday when I have the tax disc. I shall put it on charge tomorrow night so it is freshly charged for Tuesday morning when I get back and hopefully it can go out for it's maiden voyage. I will post a short video soon after that.

128:Saturday 6th March 2010

Today the weather was good, so after my daughter's football training I cracked on with the paintwork. After yesterday I had done my back in using the polishing machine (heavy) while doing the first T-Cut. Today my wife helped me and we got through the work in double quick time.
The first job was to polish with red colourfast T-Cut. My wife was applying the T-Cut and rubbing it in while I was rubbing it off and buffing it.
The next job was to apply Autoglym super resin polish. We carried on with the same jobs. I got the best job as I could see the gleam as I was polishing and buffing. The Autoglym really took the shine to another level. In the photo below you can see the "PROBATRON" letters reflecting in the bumper.
The next job was to apply the "PROBATRON" letters. This was a crowning moment as I got these from my daughter as a birthday present in December last year. I put them out on a sheet of white paper then measured the whole word. I then worked out how to centre it with respect to the rear centre reflector. I applied a length of electrical tape at the same level as the bottom of the "PROBE 24V" badges and then peeled the back of each letter and carefully stuck them on. Finally I removed the electrical tape.
As darkness fell I took another photo then called it a day. I measured the pipes for the Toyota pump and the Probe and both were 10mm. I will go to my local DIY shop tomorrow and pick up a 10mm straight compression coupler so I can cut and join the pipes to give me the correct end for the Toyota pump. That should fix the leak on the power steering pump fitting.

127:Friday 5th March 2010

Today the weather was quite good when I got home from work so I finished the first T-Cut. I need to give it another go over with a red colourfast T-Cut, then once more with Autoglym resin polish. That is all I will do then until I can afford to get a fresh paint job. Once I have the Autoglym done then I will apply the "PROBATRON" letters on the back of the car.
Then darkness fell, so I set about finding the leak on the power steering. I went to my local hydraulics supplier and he suggested trying either some fresh copper washers to seal the adaptor to the pump or some washers that have an integral rubber O ring (see photo). I tried both of these, but it is still leaking. The power steering works fine still, but it is dumping fluid. The problem is the adapter that I got to marry the Probe banjo fitting to the Toyota pump is trying to seal between the outside of the fitting and the casting on the pump. The casting is a rough finish and it won't seal properly. I think it is not square with the thread. That is o.k. for a Toyota pipe as this seals inside the pump directly on the end of the pipe with a small O ring. So the plan now is to get the pipe off the probe and go to my hydraulics guy and get him to join the end of the Toyota pipe directly to the end of the Probe pipe, then I will have the correct fittings on both ends and there should be no more leaks. Also I sorted out the insurance to start next Tuesday morning. I have booked a day off work to go to the DVLA office and get the log book changed and my free tax disk. I just hope the cover note comes by Tuesday. I know that there is no way they will issue a tax disc without the insurance document and the MOT certificate. I phoned them and checked. They must see the actual paper copies!

126:Thursday 4th March 2010

Passed the MOT today, but developed a small leak on the power steering. I think it is where the banjo is seated against the casting on the pump and it is not sealing properly. I believe my local hydraulics expert has some washers for that. I had one with like a rubber o ring in the middle of it and I may be able to get a couple more and hopefully that will stop the leak. My friend who got the MOT done took it for a drive to various repair places collecting bits and clocked up 16 miles and it still has some charge left. I still haven't had a drive myself yet. When I got home from work my wife and I fumbled around trying to find the details of the insurance I had pre-arranged, but the email was deleted. By the time we searched through the browsing history and found the website and hence the phone number, they had all gone home. Tomorrow I will get the insurance started and then next week I can go to the DVLA to get my log book changed and sent off and collect my free tax disc.